Enrolling Your Child In A Public Charter School: Three Things To Know

Enrolling your child in a public charter school can provide a wonderful opportunity to receive an enriching education. School choice means you get a chance to go outside of your regular public school options to find a school that meets your child's specific needs. If you are interested in charter schools, here are some things to know before you enroll:

Enrollment Criteria

Every school district with charter school options may have different enrollment criteria. Some schools may offer placement tests to help determine eligibility for specific programs, while others may operate on a simple lottery system. In some cases there may be a waiting list, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the enrollment requirements well before your child is ready to begin school. You may find that your child will need to attend traditional public school while you wait for them to be accepted. Knowing what is required in advance can help you prepare, and it can give you time to explore all available options.

Transportation Options

Charter schools may sometimes be far away from your home. While local public schools may be required to bus students, the requirements placed upon charter schools can be different. Ask about transportation availability before you decide on a charter school. You may be able to look at options other than busing, such as a contract with a local taxi company to bring your child to and from school. The charter school may already have contracts with local companies for families in need of transportation, but you should also inquire about the costs to use these services.

Tuition And Fees

Because public charter schools operate within the public school system, tuition is not typically charged. However, if you choose to send your child to a charter school that is outside of your district or attendance zone, you may be required to pay out-of-district tuition. This rule is typically the same as it would be if you chose to send your child to any other public school outside of your district, but you should check with the local board to ensure you have all the appropriate information. If you are currently qualified for the free or reduced school lunch program or other similar programs, you should be able to apply for them at the charter school as well.

If your child is already enrolled in public school, consider scheduling an appointment with a guidance counselor. He or she can provide you with valuable information about public charter school enrollment in the area as well as insight about which schools might be the best fit for your student.